Friday, December 18, 2009

April the 14 A. D. 1862




My dear companion I once more take my pen in hand to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well at present time hoping that these few lines may find you all well. I received your letter on the 14 instant which gave me great satisfaction to hear from you all once more. I had give out of ever hearing from you again I did not know what to think. This is the first time I have heard from you since I left home. Sarah I want you to write to me every week and I will do the same.


Sarah we have a heap of news in the camp but none to believe on. They have been fighting at Corinth. We gain the day so fair. The loss was heavy on both sides. I saw 25 hundred and ten prisoners that was taken. They came through this place. They was a going to Tuscaloosa, AL. The were a mild looking men and appeared to be satisfied. They come (?) and 4 through here last night. I was on guard and I do not see them. Our company have been in bad health but they air all mending and in better spirits . We have lost three men since we have been here but we air improving now.


Sarah I saw a awful sight last Saturday morning. I saw a man killed, it was an awful sight to look at. Sarah a dead man ain’t no sight here, they die from 8 to 10 every day. We haven’t been attached to no regiment yet, I expect to go to Meridian this week, if we do I will be at home this week and if we don’t go I will be at home next week on furlough.


Sarah I don’t want you to bee uneasy about me, we get a plenty to eat now. I liked to starved to death the first week I stayed here but we get plenty now. Sarah I don’t want you to be uneasy about me. Tell Joanna (daughter) to be a good gal and I will bring her a pretty boat when I come. Tell Jo to kiss Jeff (son) for me. Sarah I must come to a close, nothing more only remain your affectionate husband until death.


J. E. Bailey to Sarah Bailey
















A few lines to Mary,


Mary I received your letter. Mary you wanted to know if I could read your letter, I could read it very well and I would be glad to get one from you every week. I can’t get too many letters from old Smith it does me good to hear from that part of the world. Mary I must come to a close. I want you to write to me soon so you by Mary. I will write you a full letter before long. I would write more now but I have got to go on duty. Tell father that I would write to him now but I haven’t got time. I would like to fill this up but I haven’t got time to do so. So good bye to you all, write soon.


Jesse Bailey


Back your letter after this form


J. E. Bailey Grenada in lear of Capt S. R. Shepan Miss Volunteers


Friday, June 19, 2009

Who:  Freeman Boyd 

Again on my never ending search to crack or at least make a chip in this little bit of a brick wall.  As mentioned earlier, I have a bit of an attention problem.  Distractable would be a mild way of putting it, so I have lots of loose ends all over the place.  One way I try to pull myself back around is to do a day of  organizing: aka cleaning my junkie project room.  Mostly what's lying around lately is gen stuff, so lots of papers and the sort.  Not to get too deep into my filing system, I will say that I notebooks assigned to each family name I research.  Now that I have the Smith family to add, I had to find another binder.  In doing so, a large stack of papers fell on the floor.  This forced me to go through each page to sort properly because I just bought a stapler last week and the whole stack was loose.  

This was the end to my organizing.  Going through each page  full of names and info from censes (is that the right plural?) and copies was like having the internet lying at my feet.  I couldn't pull my self from this one handwritten page of unsourced and poorly sourced notes (I tell myself  never slough the sources everytime I run across pages like this). Close to the top underneath a theory on the meaning of a strange aunt name was:

John Boyd- Green Co GA -1790 Reconstructed GA Census.  

So I went on and found this, but not from doing the search.  I had to limit my search terms to find the specific reference.  It is a scanned book that goes through all the GA counties in 1790 and lists the names of people mentioned in Land deeds and Wills.  This includes not just the primary names, but anyone who may have given witness or used as some sort of reference to the legal proceeding.

John Boyd was listed under people who were witnesses or were owners of adjoining lands of property mentioned in the Deed Book 1 of Green County Georgia.

How is this relevant?  Green county GA is the place of record of the marriages of Reddick Smith, Freeman Boyd's father in law,  in 1811 and 1816.  Freeman was born in 1814 in GA so possibly, the Smith family knew the Boyds from their time in Greene Co.  

Over the years, parts of Greene county was broken into other surrounding counties, and frequently records are scattered among the different places.  Next step, I guess.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Who?  Freeman Boyd, indirectly-- Richard Simmons, somewhat directly.

What is chasing down rabbit holes and what is following a lead?  I guess if you get a result.  But with my deficit of attention, I really blur the lines for myself.  

Take my latest quest, to find information about Freeman Boyd, a long ago ancestor. I'm trying to investigate all possible avenues before I quit flogging this horse, so last weekend I sat down to really pour over the facts.  This is a set of interesting circumstances that don't necessarily relate directly to Freeman, but are an interesting side note to my ancestry Richard Simmons.  Jokes concerning the more known and living R Simmons aside, Richard's family and the Boyd/Smith families were closely allied during the early years of Jasper county.  All families purchased or obtained land near the others in the Montrose/Mt Vernon area and they all ran small farming operations.  Several family members married within the other's ranks further solidifying the bonds.

This leads me to my case at hand:  William Simmons, son of Richard marries Elmira Smith, daughter of Reddick Smith.  Possibly around 1857, I don't have a date.  It is the life of William that most interests me at this point.  In 1860, he and wife Elmira are on the census rolls in Jasper county with two kid, James and Martha.  In 1861, William and his brother James enlist in the Allahoma Hardshells, the Jasper volunteer force of the Confederacy.  According to military records, by the end of 1861, William was ferlowed for medical reasons in Florida.  At some point, he returned to Jasper County where he and Elmira parted company, probably a legal divorce since 3 years later, he married  Nancy Mitchum in Jackson County Alabama and had two more children over the next four years.

Here are my questions, and interest:  What made William go to Jackson County Alabama?  I do know that land records show that  A Richard Simmons obtained land in Jackson county Alabama back in 1835, but I have no way of knowing if this is the same Richard.  Jackson county is near by Cherokee county where I have information that Richard married Sarah Huff and was possibly living there according to the 1840 census. Also in that same census, there were a Cage(?), Jane and William Simmons living in Jackson county with all the male being of similar age to Richard.   It is likely that these people still lived in Jackson county at least until 1860 because land records show them obtaining land around that time.

Could Richard still have had land and relatives in that area, so young William moved there?  

By the 1866 Mississippi census, former wife Elmira and brother James's newly widow Caroline Rush Simmons were listed in households next to Richard. 

Ok, here's the MOST interesting part: According to public records,  Andrew J Mitchum, Nancy Mitchum Simmons's brother, was allegedly murdered by a Peter Simmons in 1869 in Madison County AL.  According to a quote from "Marriages, Deaths, and Legal Notices from Early Alabama Newspapers 1819-1893"  "Andrew J Michum was killed by Peter Simmons in Madison County last Thursday week, Difficulty grew out of settling some business affairs"  Madison Co court records show two charges against B C Mitchem for assault with intent to commit murder, under the two charges are  penciled in Peter Simmons and Thompson G Simmons.  Also listed is the charge of murder against Peter Simmons.  Researchers couldn't find any records as to whether these men were found guilty of the charges because of missing court documents in Madison Co AL.  

I have no indications as to whether these Simmons's are related to our Simmons, but investigations show that Peter and Thompson were the sons of A William Simmons b VA 1793 who resided in Franklin TN in 1850 with his wife, Bearsheba and 5 children.  This William died sometime in the 1850's because wife Bearsheba is remarried to a Banks fellow and has other children in addition to sons James Simmons and Thompson.  In the 1860, these teen aged boys are listed with assets so possibly they inherited some wealth from their father.  Peter isn't listed with the family at that time.  

How did these brothers wind up in Madison County? 

Also, what does that have to do with our young family, William and Nancy.  Well according to reseachers's birth records, their youngest child, William Barkley was born in Lauderdale county MS in 1867.  Seems the young family was making their way back down south.  William again parted with this family at some point over the next couple of years because by 1874, both Nancy and William were remarried.  Nancy married an Underwood and is buried in the Louin Cemetery.  William remmarried and eventually settled in Louisiana were he had three confirmed and possibly five other children.  

Now rabbit hole or lead... still some chasing to do.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Who: Freeman Boyd.

From the previous post you will know that I have been doing a considerable amount of reading on 19th century history.  Mostly to get a better perspective on what specific reasons for my ancestors' migration across the American South.  All the while trying to hunt down clues on the life of Freeman Boyd, my ggggggrandfather (oh don't hold me to the g's).  Until now, I've been using the Boyd name as the focus of my search.  But upon looking at the census records from Macon Co AL 1850, I noticed the two households following Freeman and family were Smiths whose children's names corresponded with children's names in the Boyd household.  I was told at one time that Freeman's wife's maiden name was Smith, but didn't really go into looking at the line because males are usually easier to track through historical record.  

Taking another look at the Smith relations in the 1850 Macon Co AL census,  I took Redick Smith (age 60) to be Emily Smith Boyd's father and John R Smith (age 32) to be her brother.  Looking on Ancestry's family trees, I found Reddick Smith, but neither Emily or John are listed at children.  Probably because the researcher is using the census of 1850 as their main source and doesn't have any "proof" of other children.  

Using the information from the census, I took a visit to the graveyard in Montrose Mississippi where Freeman and Emaley Boyd are buried.  There I found more Smiths that I expected.  Mostly among them, Mary Clarke Smith b 1805 d 1884.  Next to her was a confederate headstone for Reddick Smith Company A 7th MS Infantry.  Likely her son, since her husband would have been a bit long in the tooth for military service.  Many of the gravesites were unmarked, but this was enough for me to have something to continue on.  The most curious thing about going to Palestine Cemetery was that I discovered the grave of a friend's mother who died of cancer when we were both in the first grade.  Ms Louise had hair that extended down to her knees and she kept it tightly wound in a bun.  

I digress...

From just the information on the 1850 census, I can deduce that Reddick was born in Virginia but by at least 1818 had migrated to Georgia because that was the year John R Smith was born.  Checking the marriage records in GA, I found Reddick Smith marrying Polly Hall on Dec 11, 1811 in Green County GA.  Also, in the records, Reddick is shown marrying Mary Clarke on Jan 11 1816.  This leads me to believe that Polly must have died and Reddick remarried.  Since I'm only making deductions from my limited resources, I can't speculate on if Reddick and Polly Hall had any children.  

Checking back on my files of early Jasper County MS, I haven't seen any evidence of any relative Boyd travelling from Alabama to Mississippi with Freeman.  It is clear to me that he came with his wife's family, the Smiths, and settled near Montrose.  According to my Aunt Dee, the area around Palestine Church was called Smithtown when she was growing up.  This was also verified in a posting attached to Redding Smith on one of the member trees.  It sites a source that I don't quite understand its validity, but looks worth investigating:  The Smiths of Cork, Ireland.  

Clearly, the Smith line is better documented and hopefully, following their line may eventually lead to a break in the Boyd wall.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Historical Readings: If anyone is following my posts, I'm trying to keep up to date on my genealogical findings. Lately, I've given to reading works by people who lived and traveled through the American South. My first book which I highly recommend to any curious about the southern experience during the antebellum years is Cotton Kingdom by Fredrick Law Olmsted. I wrote about it last month in detail. Although, I think he is a bit wordy at points, readers acquainted with Victorian era prose will find him rather succinct.

On the subject of 19th c travel writing, I checked out a book called The Very Worst Road: Traveller's Accounts of Crossing Alabama's Old Creek Territory, 1820-1847. Not judging a book by its cover or even its ill thought reference name, I found the experiences included to be varied and informative. Lots of touring entertainers like P T Barnum and Tyrone Power give their two cents on life in Alabama. For those of you who don't know... I'm a theatre person, so I give a bit of cred to my peeps from the past.

Another interesting 19th c text is Journey into Wilderness: An Army Surgeon's Account of Life in Camp and Field during the Creek and Seminole Wars 1836-1838 by Jacob Rhett Motte. My ancestor, Freeman W Boyd was a participant in this particular conflict in the on going struggle between the Native American tribes who resisted the forced migration west. I found Motte's experience to be pedestrian, his observations of the various militia companies from Alabama to be somewhat informative. Regardless how you view some of his writings (I find a recollection of a story of a Creek brave slitting his own throat with a dull knife rather that being taken west a rather romantic thought, but probably not the whole truth) they are the best first person perspective known concerning this time.

Going back in time a few years, I've almost finished The Journal of John Harrower: An Indentured Servant in the Colony of Virginia 1773 - 1776. John was a Scottish laddie from the Shetland Islands who left his wife and family to travel south to London in 1773 in search of work. John, a former merchant, was unable to find employment and was unable to procure funds to sail abroad to the continental mainland. Instead, in a moment of weakness, he sold himself into indenture as a tutor in the colony of Virginia. His account of life crossing the Atlantic ocean is brief, but poignant. While he didn't experience the nastiness that lesser placed people did, you get a good view of colonial life through his employer.

Finally, I must confess the book that made me put all my musty dusties away for at least a couple of days Confederacy of Silence: A True Tale of the New Old South by Richard Rubin. I was drawn to the book by the title which is so near a favored book A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The first few pages instantly hooked me. Having grown up in the "New Old South" especially having come of age during the time that the beginning of the book was written (late 1980's) and being of a mind that wasn't a part of the --ok, I have to take a break here because even twenty years distant, I can't bring my self to acquiesce to the sidelines of southern experiences. Let's just say that my life didn't include much football, animal hunting, and husband luring. To this day I get miffed by people from my past who call me "different".---Back to the book: The message of privilege by birth was one that I found to be authentic and I admire Mr. Rubin for pursuing the story of Handy Campbell. In the book, the author speaks about his fascination with the Emmit Till Case--another side note: I didn't EVEN know this had happened until about 8 years ago when I stumbled upon it when researching the song " Strange Fruit" sung by Billie Holliday. Upon learning this, I asked my father if he knew of anyone in our area that was lynched or murdered wrongly. He just bowed his head a said that one guy they thought was murdered, but had escaped to New Jersey. A likely story, but one that I'm sure was "passed" as truth to appease the religious sorts. Let's hope that his grand children are well and happy-- which is why he probably pursued this case with such fervor. I haven't finished the book, but I already relate to the late night drives into no where trying to get AM stations from all over. Chicago's WBBM and Atlanta's WSB ruled late night.

Already gone longer than expected...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Post #5:  

Suggested reading:  Cotton Kingdom by Frederick Law Olmsted.  

Famous for designing Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted spent young adulthood travelling around Europe and North America.  He documented his travels in newspaper articles for a New York paper, which have been for the most part, either by him or others, put into book form.  His story of travelling across the South during the cotton boom is a telling account of the cotton growing culture of the time.

Since many of our ancestors were a part of the agriculture class during the ninetheeth century, I think it will help me to understand more of how our forefather's lived.  For instance, he holds an account of what he calls "interior small cotton farmers"  which fits the description of many of our ancestors.  

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Post #4:
Who: Freeman W Boyd
What: Military Service during the Creek Seminole War
Freeman was a Private in Beauchamp's Company of the 42 Alabama Militia.